Flying robo-taxis eyed for Bay Area commuters

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French inventor Frank Zapata grabbed headlines around the world this summer when he flew his hoverboard across the English channel from Pas de Calais, France, to the famous white cliffs of Dover. But Bay Area commuters may soon do Zapata one better by skimming above San Francisco Bay on autonomous, single-passenger drones being developed by a Peninsula start-up company with ties to Google. The automated drones are electrically powered, capable of vertical takeoff and landing, and would fly 10 feet above the water at 20 mph along a pre-determined flight path not subject to passenger controls. The drones' rotors are able to shift from vertical to horizontal alignment for efficient forward movement after takeoff. The company behind all this, three-year-old Kitty Hawk Corp., has personal financial backing from Google founder Larry Page, now CEO of Google's parent, Alphabet, who has long been interested in autonomous forms of transportation.


Tech world debate on robots and jobs heats up

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Washington (AFP) - Are robots coming for your job? Although technology has long affected the labor force, recent advances in artificial intelligence and robotics are heightening concerns about automation replacing a growing number of occupations, including highly skilled or "knowledge-based" jobs. Just a few examples: self-driving technology may eliminate the need for taxi, Uber and truck drivers, algorithms are playing a growing role in journalism, robots are informing consumers as mall greeters, and medicine is adapting robotic surgery and artificial intelligence to detect cancer and heart conditions. Of 700 occupations in the United States, 47 percent are at "high risk" from automation, an Oxford University study concluded in 2013. A McKinsey study released this year offered a similar view, saying "about half" of activities in the world's workforce "could potentially be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies."


Long in the works, self-driving boats may make a splash before autonomous cars

The Japan Times

BOSTON – Self-driving cars may not hit the road in earnest for many years -- but autonomous boats could be just around the pier. Spurred in part by the car industry's race to build driverless vehicles, marine innovators are building automated ferry boats for Amsterdam canals, cargo ships that can steer themselves through Norwegian fjords and remote-controlled ships to carry containers across the Atlantic and Pacific. The first such autonomous ships could be in operation within three years. One experimental workboat spent this summer dodging tall ships and tankers in Boston Harbor, outfitted with sensors and self-navigating software and emblazoned with the words "UNMANNED VESSEL" across its aluminum hull. "We're in full autonomy now," said Jeff Gawrys, a marine technician for Boston start-up Sea Machines Robotics, sitting at the helm as the boat floated through a harbor channel.


The next race for autonomous vehicles? Self-driving boats

#artificialintelligence

Self-driving cars may not hit the road in earnest for many years - but autonomous boats could be just around the pier. Spurred in part by the car industry's race to build driverless vehicles, marine innovators are building automated ferry boats for Amsterdam canals, cargo ships that can steer themselves through Norwegian fjords and remote-controlled ships to carry containers across the Atlantic and Pacific. The first such autonomous ships could be in operation within three years. One experimental workboat spent this summer dodging tall ships and tankers in Boston Harbor, outfitted with sensors and self-navigating software and emblazoned with the words "UNMANNED VESSEL" across its aluminum hull. "We're in full autonomy now," said Jeff Gawrys, a marine technician for Boston startup Sea Machines Robotics, sitting at the helm as the boat floated through a harbor channel.


Heathrow trials a driverless vehicle in new footage

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Fascinating footage has been released of a robot's-eye-view of a driverless vehicle trial at Heathrow Airport, side-by-side with how a human driver would see the routes it took. The clip comes from a'cargopod' vehicle that spent three and a half weeks running autonomously along a cargo route around the airside perimeter. The trial collected over 200km of data for Heathrow, cargo operator IAG Cargo and the software firm providing the self-driving tech, Oxford-based Oxbotica. Fascinating footage has been released of a robot's-eye-view of a driverless vehicle trial at Heathrow Airport, side-by-side with how a human driver would see the routes it took The clip comes from a'cargopod' vehicle, pictured, that spent three and a half weeks running autonomously along a cargo route around the airside perimeter The trial was designed to further understanding about how autonomous vehicles could work in an airside environment so opportunities for their use can be maximised. Lynne Embleton, CEO at IAG Cargo, said: 'Technology is evolving at an incredible pace.